Sunday, February 15, 2009

WEEK 2 (Feb 8-14)

We have been studying Kinyarwanda hard and long. This week we were assigned “resource families” which are Rwandese families that volunteered to help us learn the language and culture. We meet with them for at least three hours a week. My “mama” is very nice. She is a secondary school teacher and has three kids. Her house is a couple kilometers from here and the last kilometer is up a VERY steep hill. Each PC trainee was assigned one family.
Second we went to one of the starkest genocide memorials in the country yesterday. Mrs. Wellman, please read this before reading it to the class.
We boarded a couple small buses and drove for about 40 minutes through some of the steepest areas I’ve seen in Rwanda yet. Not without car trouble though. The bus that I was in couldn’t do it. It broke down so we started walking. The countryside was beautiful and made it worth it. We arrived at the Murambi memorial and were given notice of what we would see and were given the option to decline. There were 27 rooms filled with the bodies of victims preserved in lye. You can see the expressions on their faces at their moment of death. The deaths of these people were oftentimes horrific. Many of the bodies were missing limbs, their skulls crushed or split or decapitated. Children were no exception. There were a couple adults clenching their babies. Many of the bodies still had their clothes on. Not a whole lot of people can make is through all 27 rooms. I don’t think anyone makes it through without crying. Some of you may be concerned of why this memorial exists. The idea is that the face of genocide has been veiled so many times before. They are trying to show the true face of genocide so that it doesn’t happen again. There is much more to this story but this blog probably isn’t the appropriate place for that.
Afterwards some of us went to a local park to play volleyball. There was a wedding that was getting ready to start at the church nearby, so another PC trainee and I decided to stay just to see the drummers that were setting up. We were sweaty and not well dressed but this very nice man offered for us to attend the wedding. We ran home to change and clean up and grab our cameras. When we arrived at the wedding there was a very awkward 30 seconds when everyone turned around and looked at the Muzungus (white people). We sat down in the back but an usher brought us up closer. This is actually normal in Rwandan culture. They are VERY hospitable even to strangers. We were offered cake and drinks that they wouldn’t let us refuse (hehe). It was the most exciting experience I’ve had in Rwanda yet! The drumming was absolutely INCREDIBLE and the dancing was some of the best dancing I have EVER seen!! Some very important people were there and we met a couple of them. Anyway, this blog entry is getting long. I miss my friends and family very much! I hope everything is good back home!


  1. Hi Love,
    Wow, it's so great to get your posts. It's awesome that they're long. I'm happy to hear you're being well taken care of, at least for now. Please give your Rwandanese Mama a big "hello" and a hug from me! Hope your language lessons are going well.
    That Murambi memorial sounds rough, made my stomach hurt just reading about it. I can't imagine seeing it or ever getting the images out of my head after having seen it.
    The wedding sounded great! It's so sweet to hear how welcoming the people are, wish I could meet them too. Sounds like they're hospitable, ESPECIALLY to strangers. I can imagine you had a wonderful time there. Did you dance and take pictures? Hope you will be able to post some pics soon.
    On a personal note, I hope you're eating well and taking good care of yourself. Everyone is well here. It's hot again and Santana wants to go to the beach. Maybe tomorrow. We love you and miss you very much! Lots of love, Mom (the big Muzungus)

  2. Wow, the infamous drummers?! Remember when you used to google videos of them so we could be amazed? That's great that you got to see them in person. And a great wedding experience, I see. On a sadder note, the memorial sounds very intense. I don't know how I could handle that, but I understand the purpose behind the intensity. I hope it changed someone's life in that way. Take care!

  3. Hey Brandon I just wanted to say I enjoy seeing Rwanda thru your eyes. Keep on letting us know how you are and where you are at. I leave in a few days for thailand. Thoughts to follow. Rebekah made me sign a living will. Ha! She is so practical. Barak gave his first state of the union address the other night. He is so eloquent and forthright. I truly believe him to be the "man" of the hour. He is so refreshing. God bless you in all endeavors. We miss you dearly. HELGA BTW Eve and I buried Arjuna this morning. Thought you should know.